"Your highness can save yourself from all these small annoyances," said Pollnitz; "you have only to marry."
"Marry, bah! That means to give my poor sister-in-law, Elizabeth Christine, a companion, that they may sing their sorrows to each other. No, I have not the bravery of my kingly brother, to make a feeling, human being unhappy in order to satisfy state politics. No, I possess not the egotism to purchase my freedom with the life-long misery of another."
"But, mon Dieu! my prince," said Pollnitz, in his cynical way, "you look at it in too virtuous a manner. All women are not as good and pure as poor Elizabeth Christine, and know how to compensate themselves in other quarters for the indifference of their husbands. We are not speaking here of a common marriage, but of the betrothal of a prince. You do not marry your heart, but your hand. Truly such a marriage-ceremony is a protecting talisman, that may be held up to other women as an iron shield upon which, all their egotistical wishes, all their extravagant demands must rebound. Moreover, a married man is entirely sans consequence for all unmarried women, and if they should love such a one, the happy mortal may be convinced that his love is really a caprice of the heart, and not a selfish calculation or desire to marry."
The prince regarded the smiling courtier earnestly, almost angrily. "Do you know," he said, "that what you say appears to me very immoral?"
"Immoral?" asked Pollnitz, astonished; "what is that? Your princely highness knows that I received my education at the French court, under the protection of the Regent of Orleans and the Princess of the Palatinate, and there I never heard this word immoral. Perhaps your highness will have the kindness to explain it to me."
"That would be preaching to deaf ears," said the prince, shrugging his shoulders. "We will not quarrel about the meaning of a word. I only wish to make you understand that I would not marry at my brother's bon plaisir. I will not continue this race of miserable princes, that are entirely useless, and consequently a burden to the state. Oh! if Heaven would only give me the opportunity to distinguish myself before this people, and give to this name that is go small, so unworthy, a splendor, a color, a signification!"
"Your highness is ambitous," said Pollnitz, as the prince, now silent, paced his room with deep emotion.
"Yes, I am ambitious--I thirst for action, renown, and activity. I despise this monotonous, colorless existence, without end or aim. By God! how happy I should be, if, instead of a prince, I could be a simple private man, proprietor of a small landed estate, with a few hundred subjects, that I should endeavor to make happy! But I am nothing but a king's brother, have nothing but my empty title and the star upon my coat. My income is so small, so pitiful, that it would scarcely suffice to pay the few servants I have, if, at the same time, they were not paid by the king as his spies."